It hardly seems a week since we celebrated Easter Sunday! The Scripture Readings during the week have been highlighting the Resurrection appearances of Jesus and also linking them to Pentecost. Today we are faced with the meaning of faith, as demonstrated by ‘Doubting’ Thomas. Maybe we see something of ourselves in Thomas … and that may not be such a bad thing. But we’ll come to that later!
Unlike Thomas, we haven’t seen, but are asked and expected to believe … at least that’s what it looks like on the surface. However, in reality, it’s not like that at all! We have all the proof that anyone could need, that Jesus is alive and well, and living in us, so long as we ourselves are alive and well – and living in him! We live two thousand years later; Pentecost has happened, and the message of the Gospel, and the Person of Jesus, have been debated and written about in almost every language in the world. What further signs do we want? What further signs do we need?
Faith requires a generous dose of humility, and a large amount of common sense. Whenever we buy a car, or undergo surgery; every time we board an aircraft, we are making an act of faith in someone or in something. Without faith, we would all end up doing nothing! I remember many years ago when I was preparing to take my first Vows as a Passionist at the end of the Novitiate, I had doubts galore. I was looking for some kind of proof from God that this was the correct path for me. So I gingerly went along to the Novice Master, and laid bare my thoughts in this regard. So, he said to me, ‘Kevin what kind of percentage of proof are you looking for?” Not wanting to appear to be too exacting….I responded by saying…”Well, maybe 75%”. He just looked at me with a bit of a smile on his face, and then asked me….” What percentage did your parents have on their wedding day that this was the right path for them?” That stopped me in my tracks, and I remember saying: “well they were in love”. He then responded to me….”Are you in love with the Lord?” “We can be 100% sure that He is in love with us.” Then the Novice Master continued by saying to me…..”Go away and think deeply about this for a week, then come back and tell me your thoughts”. That was one of the most powerful and moving weeks for me. So, like Marriage, Religious Life, Priesthood and with any kind of commitment, if people didn’t have faith in themselves – and in each other – through the love that binds them, and a deep faith, and love of the Lord……no one would make any commitments.
Faith is always accompanied by doubt. Where there is certainty, there is no need for faith. Jesus compares faith to a tiny grain of mustard seed that continues to germinate and grow, eventually to become a large tree. But just as the mustard seed needs moisture, nutrients and sunlight to bring it to fullness of life, our faith needs nourishment, light and the fine mist of life-giving love, to bring it to fullness. Remember the story in the Gospel about the sick man who was lowered down through the roof by his friends, so that Jesus could heal him? Jesus healed the man having ‘seen THEIR faith’. The faith of the community can be so contagious, and can be the means of intercession for others, which can lead to a faith response; this was wonderfully experienced during the Easter Ceremonies at the Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo, New South Wales, Australia., and I am sure in your own Parish communities throughout the world. It is also seen daily whenever two or three people gather together in the Christ’s name to share life and Eucharist. Through the experience of faith, we get insight; that is, the God-given grace to see the saving hand of God at work within life-situations, Liturgies and prayerful stillness.
Let’s get back to the Gospel for today…..Notice that the Easter responsibility in response to the Lord’s Easter peace is Mission…..’As the Father sent me, so I am sending you’ somewhat a daunting and responsible task? But let’s not miss out on what Jesus then did to the assembled group….He breathed on them! Now to breathe on someone, you can’t do that from a distance….it is an intimate sign of closeness. Who has breathed on you in your life? See, these are times of real closeness. In this action of breathing, which incidentally the Father did to Jesus at the moment of His Resurrection. (The Resurrection is about the resuscitation of the sleeping Jesus, by the Father, who then became the Christ of life!) New life is breathed into us, and we become new, at Baptism and Confirmation. In fact within any experience of Christ in our life; new life is infused into us and it changes us from timidity to loving boldness. You might like to spend a few moments just checking out those kinds of experiences in your own life, and re visit that Sacramental moment in the broadest meaning of the word. Notice that the ‘re-membering’ of it can energise you now…..this is a worthwhile Spiritual exercise which can do us allot of good as time passes.
Finally, like Thomas, we are all called to enter into the brokenness of Christ in His people today. When we dare to enter into the wounds of God’s people, it is then we can say not only from our hearts, but also from every fibre of our being: ‘My Lord and My God!’ When this happens, we are truly within the holiness of a sacred moment.